One summer a few years ago, I experienced the good fortune of having a stalactite drip a bit of water on me. After a pleasant weekend in East Tennessee seeing the sights with my eight-year-old son, we climaxed our mini vacation with a visit to the Lost Sea. This huge cave with an underground lake is near Sweetwater, Tennessee, just this side of the Great Smoky Mountains.
As part of the cave tour, Phillip and I, with a group of other tourists, boated around the lake while the guide directed our attention to various points of interest. We gazed at rock formations on the lake floor that appeared to be only inches away when actually they rested in forty feet of water. As we marveled appropriately at this wonder of nature, a bit of liquid hit me on the face. I looked at Phillip as he studied the splash of water on his arm. The guide explained that the drops were from the stalactites on the ceiling of the cave. Active stalactites emit moisture from time to time. The guide assured us that this was a very fortunate happening. Stalactite drops bring seven days of good luck
Wow! Good luck! Magic words for a child. Phillip anticipated aloud the prospect of the good fortune awaiting us during the upcoming week. For extra insurance, we rubbed the bear claw rock at the cave’s exit, since that also is said to guarantee a happy future. But as I found out later, luck is in the eye of the beholder.
We left Sweetwater Sunday morning in plenty of time to reach Nashville by early afternoon. We planned to stop for lunch and gasoline at the halfway mark on the Cumberland Plateau. About 45 minutes from Sweetwater, where Interstate 75 merges with I-40, a truck crowded me and I found myself on the opposite end of the Y – headed in the wrong direction.
Irritated, I pulled off at the next exit into a travel-mart, deciding to fill the gas tank before making a turn-around. I pumped approximately $2.00 worth of gasoline – then suddenly realized my purse was still in Sweetwater. Scrounging through the car for change and borrowing a dollar from Phillip still left me a little short, but the kind station attendant understood my predicament.
As I returned to the car and started the motor, Phillip commented he was glad we had rubbed the bear claw stone for extra good luck. Weren’t we lucky the truck crowded us so we left the highway and stopped for gas earlier than we had planned? Because that happened, we didn’t have as far to backtrack when we discovered my purse missing. And weren’t we lucky that Phillip didn’t spend that dollar the day before, as he had really wanted to do? While not in complete agreement with his outlook, still I was happy our luck held and a quick phone call assured me the pocketbook was lying where I had left it, waiting to be retrieved.
That evening, when the same purse was snatched in the parking lot of a Nashville grocery store, Phillip’s belief in our good fortune was tested again. But, when the police officer said I was lucky the purse was not over my shoulder (or I might have been dragged across the parking lot), and lucky I didn’t lose my keys, and lucky I had only $17.00 cash in my wallet, and lucky I was able to cancel my bank card and checks right away, Phillip’s confidence was restored. The next day, my purse was returned with all my ID intact and he was convinced the drip from the stalactite and the magic of the stone were responsible for things turning out so well.
Actually, Phillip’s way of thinking has merit. How much better to go through life expecting the best. Maybe good things don’t really come from a weeping stone, a rabbit’s foot or a lucky charm. That doesn’t matter. The truth is: blessings in life abound if only we recognize good luck whenever it comes our way.
(I wrote this essay in 2002. It won 2nd Place in an essay contest at the Arkansas Writers Conference, and is included in the book Every Day a New Day and other short stories. ©2006. Phillip is now 24 years old.)